College Search Websites: College View

Good Better Best Steet SignsThe College View website is a comprehensive search website along the lines of Big Future and College Data in that it includes more than just the search function. The site includes information on Financial Aid and the Application Process. It also has sections on Campus Life and Careers & Majors. The Student Lounge is basically a selection of posts and other resources from College Confidential which is done by the same company.

The College Search is based on SuperMatch?„¢ which means both College View and College Confidential are using the same search function. The formatting is similar to Big Future with a set of filters on the left and the resulting list of colleges appearing on the right as you change the filter values.

Like Big Future, the filters have an importance feature. College View doesn’t make the mistake Big Future does in having the lowest value as “Don’t Care” because then why the heck did you pick a value for the filter to begin with? College View offers three options, Kinda, Very, and Must Have in terms of importance. And what exactly does it mean to “Kinda” want to have your location in a specific state? I don’t have a clue since if you just select on one state, you get the same results no matter what your preference. But SuperMatch?„¢ does have a patent pending.

College Search Websites

So let’s see what kind of difference a pending patent makes for our fictional student. As before, the?  student has SAT scores in the 85% which is a 620 in Critical Reading (CR) and 640 in Math(M). Based on the common characteristics I discussed in the introduction, she’s interested in the following:

  • 4 year institution
  • Doesn’t care about private or public
  • Size between 5,000-10,000 undergraduates
  • Near major city since no one says put me in the boonies
  • She’ll have the common northeast centric preferences of the following states: Virginia, District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
  • Selectivity-medium because she knows she’s not going to get into Harvard but doesn’t want to go where they take just anybody
  • Major in Business

The first filter is location and you can select by region or specific states. It’s pretty easy to add or remove states from your list. In terms of importance, we’ll select Must Have unless stated otherwise. There isn’t any option to choose “miles from” an entered zip code.

The next filter is Majors. You select degree type, Bachelor or Associates, and then major. You get the entire range of business related majors which includes Truck and Bus Driver Instructor. We’ll limit it four more general categories and select schools that have any of the majors rather than all of them.

Under My Scores we can enter the SAT score information. Unfortunately, it uses a little slider bar and requires all three scores. So I looked up the 85% score for writing which is 620. It would be a whole lot easier to just enter the actual numbers instead of trying to hit the exact score with the slider. You can also enter your GPA.

There’s also an option to include Open Admission Policy or schools where you would be well above average to increase financial aid opportunities. This makes me think that it will basically just look for schools where the middle 50 percentile match our scores. For right now, we won’t check these boxes. Since test scores is one of the factors that can really limit the schools, we’ll just select Very under importance.

Tuition and fees we don’t care about but another slider is provided from $0 to $50,000 along with the option to pick your home state. As mentioned before, while this has some usefulness for public schools, it doesn’t do anything for private schools.

Ethnicity is the next filter and you can choose from Overall Campus Diversity categories of High, Typical, or Low or you can select specific representation by race/ethnicity. These are also High, Typical, Low. What’s wrong with using numbers?

So after we already select a bachelor or associates degree under major, it now asks us if we want to attend a Traditional College/University or Community/Technical college. Well, if we selected Bachelor earlier, we probably don’t want to pick the community college option although some are now offering four-year degrees. What’s funny is that in parenthesis by Traditional is says “typically 4-year schools” and “typically 2-year schools” by Community. Given that there are schools in both categories that will issue diplomas found in the other category, I understand that things aren’t exactly what they seem. But this setup just doesn’t work. It should have been asked earlier. In any case, we choose Traditional.

Under School Size we get to choose from five categories which are not going to match-up with our preferences. We’ll have to select Small (2,001 to 7,000) and Mid-size (7,001-13,000). You would think something with a patent would allow you to enter actual numbers. And we don’t know if they are referring to just undergraduates or all students.

Next comes the Campus Setting filter. We get six categories to choose from. These are actually pretty decent descriptions for most users’ purposes. Unfortunately, as discussed previously, schools will still show up in unexpected categories. We’ll choose all but Rural and Town not near an Urban Area.

We get to choose public or private under the public or private filter. This probably should just be combined with the earlier type filter.

We’ll skip the filters for Gender Mix and Historically Black filters and go to Getting in. We get three choices, Very Select (admits less 1/3 of apps), Selective (admits 1/3 to 2/3 of apps) and Wide Open (admits over 2/3 apps). Given that they put numerical (sorta) values next to the categories anyway, why not just use the actual values? So we select Selective, of course.

We don’t need to go through the next 11 filters since we have covered our basic preferences. More on them later.

The Results

So how many colleges do we end up with? Well, it’s kind of hard to say since it doesn’t say anywhere the exact number that match. It produces a list of colleges with a box next to each stating the percentage match. We get 10 100% matches and then 88 with 99% matches. Not surprisingly, none of the ten matched with the nine common to the previous four searches.

For each institution, you can click on Why under the percentage and find out what categories matched. It looks that 99% schools matched all the way except for test scores which I did mention generally causes problems. You’ll see a series of bar graphs with the percentage match. So one school may match your test scores at 83% and another 72% but again, we really don’t know what that means.

Once you drop to 98% match, two of the categories did meet 100% to your characteristics. The actual percentage met doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the overall percentage.?  What’s the point of giving us numbers that don’t have any meaning and then avoiding them we could easily enter our preferred school size?

Ok, another irritation, clicking Why under the percentage opens the same information as clicking on More Info. Given that the Why doesn’t really answer the question anyway, why bother with it?

So what can we do with the results? Well, we can show the results on a map which is pretty cool and makes up for the lack of a distance from zip code function.?  You can expand the results which is as if you clicked the Why link for all of the schools. You can also change the importance ratings of the filters you selected from a drag and drop summary at the top of the page.

You can click the pin it box under the percentage matched value and it will keep pinned schools at the top of the list while showing a horizontal list you can scroll through at the very top. This allows you to unpin them quickly.

Comparison Data

Once pinned you can compare the schools. This feature is actually better than I expected it to be in terms of providing comparison information. Now it gives us the actual student population and student body race/ethnicity percentages. It also lists

  • Percent Admitted
  • Average ACT/SAT?  (not middle 50 percentile range)
  • Average High School GPA
  • Retention Rate
  • In-State Tuition & Fees
  • Out-of-State Tuition& Fees
  • Room & Board
  • Number of Students
  • Coed Status
  • Gender Mix
  • % Race/Ethnicity and International
  • Major you searched on at Bachelor and Associate Level
  • Number of majors by Bachelor and Associate Level
  • Highest Degree Offered
  • Graduation Rate
  • Athletic Division
  • Greek Organizations
  • Perceptions

Any specific information you selected under the filters will show up in the comparison as well. For example, if you selected Environmental under the Organization filter, it will show up if it exists at the school. That means you could see information on the following filters (the ones we skipped earlier) in addition to the ones mentioned above.

  • Organizations (student groups)
  • Special Services (remedial, day care, academic/career counseling, job placement)
  • Disability Services (mobility, visually, hearing)
  • Sports (varsity by division)
  • Greek Life (exists or not)
  • Religious Affiliation
  • Liberal-leaning schools
  • GLBT-Friendly Schools
  • Party Scene
  • Great College Towns

Unfortunately, you can’t do much else with the information. There aren’t any sort features and no printing or exporting options.?  Well, if you count being able to drag and drop the columns to change the order of the schools, there is manual sorting. You can save your information like you do in College Navigator by emailing yourself or others a link that replicates your search.

Individual Profiles

As expected, the individual profiles contains a lot more information that is available in the search filters or comparison table. The Financial Aid & Scholarship section displays the percentage of students receiving need and merit-based aid which would be nice to use in comparing schools. It doesn’t include the average percentage of aid met nor does it have any loan information as part of the financial aid package.

This section also includes a list of all scholarships available through the college. This would seem to be a great idea except that most of the scholarships listed are awarded as part of your financial aid package. In other words, you don’t, can’t, apply for them directly.

College View also doesn’t provide one figure for total Cost of Attendance. It actually has a section called Cost of Attendance under Tuition & Fees and lists all of the various costs but never bothers to add it up for you. So the information is there, you just have to calculate it yourself.

Like College Data, College View shows information on how far to closest airport but College View doesn’t include bus or train service. As a parent of a student that has to take a bus to the airport, I find this very useful information.

The unique aspect of the College View profile is the Web Rush section which links to everything on the web about the college. You get links to information on College Confidential, Flicker, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. It’s one-stop shopping for all social media for the college.

For the individual school profile, you can select View Print Friendly Version for the various categories under School Facts. This is basically killing trees to duplicate the exact same information that is on the website.

Searching for colleges on College View can’t match College Data in terms of information availability and comparison ability. It is closer to Big Future in look and feel but lacks some of the financial aid information that’s found on Big Future. Given that all three websites are using the Common Data Set, it’s hard to see why you would use College View to search for a college over Big Future or College Data.

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